Fordham Becomes First Law School Accredited For Fashion



Diane von Furstenberg poses for a portrait on Nov. 13, 2014 at the Four Seasons hotel in Seattle. Von Furstenberg has finished a book about her mother, a Holocaust survivor, and continues to head a non-profit on female empowerment. (Mike Siegel/Seattle Times/TNS)

Contributing Writer

On June 22, Fordham Law School (LAW) became the first accredited law school to offer a degree in fashion law, consisting of a combination of intellectual property, cargo, and contractual law. The degree was created by Fashion Law Institute director Susan Scafidi, in conjunction with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, founder of fashion company DVF and President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Fordham undergraduates can minor in fashion as of fall 2014.

The fashion law program will be offered both full time and part time, offering two degrees: a Master’s of Studies in law (MSL), for professionals interested in fashion law, and a Master’s of Law (LLM), for those who already have a Juris Doctor law degree. The American Bar Association has approved the program, which also has the support of von Furstenberg. Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute, says this “new era of transparency” is meant to fulfill the mission of the the Institute, which is to offer advice to the fashion industry and fashion designers by educating them. Almost every decision that is made in the fashion world involves law, according to Scafidi. “Whether a designer wants to open a new boutique, export their merchandise elsewhere or decide on a company dress code, the law must be involved.” The purpose of this program is “to promote legal literacy,” Scafidi said. According to her, designers need to understand the law and now Fordham is opening the law school doors to the fashion industry.

Within its incipient first 24 hours the program had its first applicant. “It is important that we’re training people who want to study that industry,” Scafidi said. Not only do designers need legal training, but business training as well. This program provides them with the legal training necessary for this to happen. With the rise of the Fashion Law program, students are curious to know if we will see a change in the undergraduate program. Eavan Schmitt, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’16, said, “Hopefully the introduction of the Fashion Law degree will reinforce support for the minor, particularly among the faculty and administration, where other fashion minors and myself have found it to be somewhat lacking.”

As for the minor becoming a major, there is no new information. However, fashion minors are definitely not opposed to it. “The minor should absolutely become a major, either free-standing or as a collaboration between the Theatre and Visual Arts departments, where there is already a Pre-Professional Design concentration that would dovetail nicely with fashion design classes Schmitt said. Courtney Romans, FCLC ‘16, agrees saying, “There’s definitely a lot of interest, so I think it could be a really popular major. Plus, being in New York City attracts a lot of different people.”